For all the wannabe soldiers on your Christmas list…

…I bring you Shock Tanks. They’re radio-controlled toy tanks that come in sets of two. The objective is to shoot your opponent’s tank with your tank six times. Each time you score a direct hit, your opponent’s remote control gives him an electric shock. Great fun for the whole family…Mom, Dad, and little Junior War Crimes too!

A productive weekend and thus and such

So, Shelly’s back in town! She left Thursday to go spend some time with merovingian, and came back Sunday. I got quite a lot done while she was gone, and also had the opportunity to spend some time with s and her boyfriend.

S and her boyfriend and I spent part of the weekend building a new St. Andrew’s cross, to replace the one we left in Boston. This one is painted metallic silver; the effect is, I think, kind of interesting…

This morning, Shelly got a copy of the new video game World of Warcraft, and she’s already an addict. She’s been glued to the computer since she got back from class this morning,a nd probably will be until she goes to class this evening, I imagine.

At some point this evening, s and I are probably going to be going on a…well, I don’t know quite what to call it. We’ll be spending some alone time together exploring the possibility of a romantic relationship–can you call that a “date”? “Date” doesn’t quite seem like the right word. A spending-time-together thing to see if we want to start a relationship. Thing.

Thursday: Thanksgiving with the Haus Boheme crowd, which should be fun.

Friday: Tampa Fetish Party with friends, possibly including s and her boyfriend. I made this for Shelly, which she’ll probably wear:

It’s entirely made from zip ties and 7/8″ rubber O-rings; takes about fifteen minutes to make. I’m quite pleased with the way it turned out.

Saturday: Dinner with my parents.

Sunday: PolyTampa.

In other news, I’ve been approached by a couple of different publishers who’re interested in the book on polyamory I’ve been working on. One of them wants to see an outline and some writing samples; the other wants an outline and three chapters. So now I actually have to get off my ass and start writing again; I’ve been neglecting the project ever since Boston. Yikes! Now that the idea is beginning to turn into reality, it’s beginning to turn into work as well.

Some thoughts on letters, and new diversions

Okay, so not letters, exactly. People, more like it. Well, relationships, when you get right down to it. But I’ll use letters.

So. There are these two people, who I’ll call r and s. R is a person I’ve met who’s smart, interesting, literate, fun to talk to–all the things I like and admire–and on top of that, very attractive as well. I’m fascinated by her, but I have absolutely no idea what her personal situation is, or if she’s in any way available, and haven’t made any effort at all to find out, because we’re almost certainly moving to Atlanta soon. Most likely, mid January or early February. That makes me reluctant to invest in new friendships and less open to new relationships at the moment, for obvious reasons.

S is a person I’ve known for a long time. OK Cupid, bless its mechanical little heart, seems to think that S and I are ideal relationship matches, and in truth, she’s someone I’ve been interested in for a while, though I’ve never had even the tiniest of hints that the interest is reciprocated. So last night I find out that, as a matter of fact, she is interested in me as well. Which is absolutely wonderful, but lousy timing, because…we’re almost certainly moving to Atlanta soon.

Funny thing, life.

And speaking of OK Cupid, another person I’ve met over there has recently given me a new addiction: online MOOs. Think “massively multiplayer online role playing game,” only entirely text, not graphical.

Not playing them, mind. Programming them. I’ve ported the source code for a MOO server over to Mac OS X and compiled it, and she and I are in the process of building a generic database which will probably end up on my shareware/freeware site eventually. I’d forgotten how much I love learning new programming environments! Playing with the software is a blast.

I’ve actually been spending a lot of time tinkering with server software lately. I’ve got QuickTime Streaming Server and QuickTime Broadcaster running on my new server machine, streaming video from my iSight, and I’ve got two MOO servers running at the moment as well. No, you can’t have the address; maybe later, when things are actually set up the way I want them.

And now to bed.

Follow the Money; or, why does my computer keep getting infested with spyware?

[EDIT] This particular post has generated a very large amount of email, and apparently is being read by a large number of people infected with VX2. As a result, I’ve edited it, to clean up typos and to add additional information about the exploits used, the way VX2 works, and the sources of the spyware scourge. New information is identified with [EDIT].

If you’re reading this post and you’re on a Windows computer, the odds are overwhelming–between 80% and 90%–that you are infected with at least one virus or spyware program, and the odds are very high that you’re infected with dozens or hundreds.

Yes, you. Even if you are technically literate, you have a firewall, and you never download suspicious attachments, you are almost certainly infected. There is lots and lots and lots of money in computer viruses and spyware, especially the variety that makes popup ads appear on your machine. The question I’ve always had, though, is who’s making all this money by infecting your computer?

A couple nights ago, Shelly’s computer became infected. Shelly’s technically savvy, the apartment we live in is on a closed private network with a hardware firewall between us and the Internet, and she also runs a software firewall on her computer, and she still became infected nonetheless.

I spent about six hours removing the infection, and also tracking down the source of the infection, and painstakingly backtracking all the popup ads that the adware displayed on her computer. My goal: Follow the money. Discover where the infection came from, and who was making money from it. The results were, to say the least, interesting.

If you don’t care about stuff like this, you can skip the rest of this message. If you’re curious about the mechanisms by which spyware and viruses work, who is responsible for them, why they’re so common, how they spread, and most important, who makes money by creating and releasing them: read on!

Key West Part I: People and Places

So, at long last, the promised Key West entries.

All in all, I had a great weekend. It was the first time I’ve been camping in my adult life (for some value of “camping” that means “sleeping on a queen-sized bed with electricity and refrigeration”), and I definitely want more of it. We stayed on Bahia Honda Key, which is no end of gorgeous.

Of course, every silver lining has a cloud around it–in this case, a cloud of mosquitoes. Not just any mosquitoes–killer cybernetic mosquitoes that are immune to bug spray. These mosquitoes also violate the Man-Mosquito Covenant, signed in the days of our forefathers, that say mosquitoes stay away during the day, and come out only at night. Oh, no, these were equal-opportunity mosquitoes, as unafraid of the hateful daystar as they were undeterred by Deep Woods Off.

Still, the campsite was absolutely stunning, mosquitoes or no:

Shelly and I went there with smoocherie, and met up with our former roommate Eric, his girlfriend Sofia, their friend Jen, alchmst and his partner, and some friends of smoocherie‘s I hadn’t met previously. So, now that you know that… On to the bandwidth-destroying pictures! (These are safe for work.)

Key West Part II: Fantasy Fest

The nominal reason for going to Key West was FantasyFest, an annual celebration that’s kind of like a mini Mardi Gras with more humidity.

For the most part, I wasn’t terribly impressed with FantasyFest. It had the things you’d normally expect to see at such an event–too few PortaPotties, a parade, throngs of people competing for cheap plastic beads and flashing their tits, that sort of thing. What was interesting was the number of people in elaborate body paint, some of which was quite beautiful.

I got quite a number of pics of people in body paint, hidden beneath the cut… …and NOT safe for work!

Key West Part III: Urban Decay

One of the most enjoyable parts of the trip to Key West for me was on Sunday, when Shelly, smoocherie, and I spent some time exploring the ruins of an old, wrecked bridge. The bridge was built in 1912 as a railroad passage, then later did double-duty as an automotive bridge before a new bridge was constructed parallel to it. The old bridge was left standing, as it would have been too expensive to demolish, but was broken at each end; the remaining structure is kind of slowly rotting away.

There’s urban decay visible everywhere in Key West, but as with everything else, they don’t do it quite the same way that any other town does. In most towns, the rot starts in industrial areas, and spreads outward as people flee the inner cities for the sterility and monotony of the suburbs, but Key West has no industrial areas and no suburbs, so things just kind of fall apart randomly.

So, without further ado… On to the pics!